Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lawmakers Offer Appropriations Directions, but Don't Call Them Earmarks

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Fattah is the ranking Democrat on the House Commerce-Justice-Science Approprations Subcommittee and is working to secure $13.9 million for a neuroscience initiative.

In the Senate, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, hasn’t let his disagreement with that chamber’s higher spending cap stop him from putting his stamp on some of the committee’s work. He wants to use the Commerce-Justice-Science bill (S 1392) to compel the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to look at more scientific data on the red snapper population in hopes of getting the agency to ease its restriction on hauls of the fish.

Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., also opposes the cap used by Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., but he has said he wants to see a new Commerce-Justice-Science law enacted for fiscal 2014.

To Kirk, the measure would serve as a kind of “federal anti-gangs bill,” which he sees as a tribute to Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton, who was slain shortly after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. In addition to an almost $20 million bump for Justice Department efforts to fight gangs, Kirk inserted in the report a direction that DOJ must consider new strategies to combat gangs that may have a presence in several cities.

“Dangerous drug gangs are responsible for some of the most heinous criminal acts in America, including gun trafficking, drug running and sex trafficking,” Kirk said. “That is why I fought for and remain focused on securing additional federal resources to combat these gangs of national significance that are stymieing economic development, destroying our communities and tearing families apart through acts of senseless violence.”

Causes championed by appropriators through the spending bills include the clearly parochial as well as the highly personal, but some also focus on nitty-gritty steps that lawmakers believe can make federal agencies run more efficiently. They also do not fit comfortably on either side of Capitol Hill’s partisan dividers.

In the Senate, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., has fiercely defended the $404 million provided in his chamber’s Homeland Security bill for a new lab in Kansas to research fatal animal diseases. The project has the backing of the Obama administration but has drawn sharp criticism from some Democrats, including Jon Tester of Montana. The Kansas lab earlier had a chief GOP defender in then-appropriator and now Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

In the House, Tom Rooney, R-Fla., fought to get more funds directed through the fiscal 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill (HR 2410) to fighting diseases that are attacking citrus crops, including those that affect farms in his district. Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on House Appropriations, was pleased to keep $22 million for the Securing the Cities program for preventing nuclear or radiological attack in the Homeland Security measure (HR 2217).

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a breast-cancer survivor, added a direction to the Pentagon to the Defense bill (HR 2397) that it should step up its research on how breast cancer spreads, with an aim of extending lives.

The Defense and Homeland Security measures are among the more likely spending bills that may pass if separate bills are packaged along with a continuing resolution, so members may have their best hopes of getting targeted provisions passed into law.

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